Here on 'The Last Broadcast' are many reasons to celebrate. From the joyous 'Pounding' - a detailed surge of raucous optimism - to the twilight introspection of the beautifully fragile 'M62 Song', Doves prove themselves unafraid to be big and open and honest. In reality it's a man's job that would frighten the life out of others. On songs like 'Satellites', it's clear that they're on a mission to rearrange everybody's furniture. Sometimes you can't tell whether they're guitars or pianos or guitars pretending to be pianos. Everything comes down to a noise and a feeling and the right way to communicate the ups and downs of real lives in transition. There's a passion here expressed most obviously in the way Andy Williams beats the living shit out of his kit with a smile as wide as a suspension bridge. All the best records have always been about that.
One day soon people everywhere will sing these songs. Not because they are a kind of lowest common denominator in any musical or lyrical sense, but because they are brimful of humanity. But let's not lose sight of an endlessly imaginative structural ability that belies ten years of working together. This is a record you can love at home, at the end of the day too. Sean O'Hagan's (The High Llamas/Stereolab) startling orchestral arrangements - exemplified on 'Friday's Dust' - push this emotionally eclectic record further forward. Together with a more abstract approach, they ensure that 'The Last Broadcast' builds on the successes of the debut 'Lost Souls' - a record which opened American minds to the fact that not everyone from Manchester wanted to be in a Beatles tribute band. Let's ring some changes, Our Kid. Doves are a forward-facing rock band with an experimental attitude. There is no higher compliment.
In talking about the record, Jimi Goodwin relates that the bulk of it was built from, "Jez's germs - musical ideas that he originated and brought to the rest of us". Jez reflected on the pressure the success of 'Lost Souls' had created but underlined that it wasn't enough to faze the group. "Nothing could match the pressure we put on ourselves". In conversation it's clear that Doves are a kind of weird marriage. They actually do finish one another's sentences and it's apparent that they are so close you'd be hard pushed to get a blade between them. Jimi thinks back to the time they spent looking for a singer before taking on the job and splitting the pay packet between the three of them. "One person came close but you can't get between us. Not after all we've been through together". He talks like a man who can see the clouds he once lived under floating away from him.
Andy and Jez Williams met Jimi Goodwin when they were 15. They started playing together 10 years ago but, as Jimi notes, "We were wagging school and jamming way before that". As Sub Sub (graduates of a Hacienda-inspired Manchester clubland explosion of the late eighties) the band scored some dance inflected hits which kind of painted them into a corner. The number three single 'Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)' was released on New Order manager Rob Gretton's label. "We kind of lost our way for a few years", admits Jez.
The last recordings as Sub Sub, featuring guest vocalists Bernard Sumner from New Order and Tricky, and tracks like the expansive and decidedly un-disco 'Firesuite' all but demanded a name change mindful of a rockier and more experimental direction. And if 'Ain't No Love' was a right turn for the hell of it, then 1998's 'Cedar EP' saw them back on course- displaying intentions and influences they had carried with them most of their lives. Three EPs lovingly packaged and released on their own Casino label ('Cedar EP' October '98, 'Sea Song>' May '99 and 'Here It Comes' October '99) garnered a raft of glowing reviews. Doves signed to Heavenly Recordings and consolidated with the eerie 'The Cedar Room' in March 2000.
'Lost Souls', a debut LP released at the same time, was a genuine thing of beauty wrought from hard bitten experience. Nobody could have planned for the attention it brought them. "Do we plan things? No!!" says Jimi. Since then they have toured and talked and toured some more. Unafraid of hard graft, they made time to record wherever and whenever. 'The Last Broacast', a record which realises all expectations, is the unbelievably assured result. These are early days but, save a new LP from a miraculously resurrected Jimi Hendrix, we are talking about a record that clearly deserves early reservation in those end of year lists. "We hope people will hear more optimism in there than last time. We can only write about what happens and what has happened has been good so some of that is starting to shine through in the writing" says Andy.
Two albums in and Doves, having cleared their own sonic space, have already dispensed with comparisons. I defy you for example, to find an adequate parallel for the grandeur of 'The Sulphur Man'. It's that simple. "The harder we work the better the ideas that come to us. We're quite happy to write five songs and throw four away - that's how hard we can be on ourselves", adds Jez. "After all this time working together I think we've started finally to unlearn and to get to the core of things - to make them as simple as possible", says Andy. All of which probably explains why an attempted rockabilly track never quite made it. Doves dissolve into laughter and mock outrage as they blame one another for this discarded experiment. "We should give it away as a flexi-disc!" suggests a not too serious Jimi.
It's clear that after all the dramas of the past - like the dark disillusion which followed a studio fire in 1995 that destroyed everything they had, there are new things to talk about. Music for one. "In the end it really pissed us off" says Jimi. "We got so sick of talking about that. It was like the fireman who put it out was more famous than we were!".
'The Last Broadcast' was produced with the assistance of Steve Osborne (Happy Mondays) and Max Heyes (Primal Scream and Paul Weller). It is released on 29th April 2002 and preceded by the single 'There Goes The Fear' on 15th April. Doves are currently touring the UK with Travis.